Pepe Reina Joins Aston Villa on Short-Term Loan

Pepe Reina is headed to the United Kingdom…

The 37-year-old Spanish footballer and former Liverpool goalkeeper has joined Aston Villa on a short-term deal from AC Milan.

Pepe Reina

Reina, who has also played for BarcelonaVillarrealBayern Munich and Napoliand was part of the Spain squad that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championshipin 2008 and 2012, was mainly a back-up to Milan No. 1 Gianluigi Donnarumma during his time at the San Siro.

Reina spent eight years at Liverpool between 2005 and 2013, winning an FA Cup, a Football LeagueCup, a FA Community Shieldand a UEFA Super Cup.

He ended his Liverpool career with a yearlong loan move to Napoli before permanently joining Bayern in 2014. He lasted just one year at the Allianz Arenabefore returning to Napoli for three years.

Reina made his international debut against Uruguayin 2005 but spent much of his career with Spain as the second choice goalkeeper to Iker Casillas.

Villa were keen to sign a goalkeeper after their first choice Tom Heatonsustained a season-ending injury.

Alexis Sanchez to Play for Inter Milan as Part of Season-Long Loan

Alexis Sanchez is headed to Italy…

The 30-year-old Chilean professional footballerhas joined Inter Milan on a season-long loan from Manchester United, the clubs have announced.

Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez, who joined United from Arsenal in January 2018, struggled to find his best form at Old Traffordand, despite manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaerhaving backed Sanchez to come good, has returned to Serie Awith Inter Milan.

“We can confirm that Alexis Sanchez joins Inter Milan on loan until 30 June 2020. We wish @Alexis_Sanchez the best of luck in Italy,” United wrote in a Twitter post.

Sources told ESPN FC earlier this week that Manchester United had agreed to loan Sanchez for 10 months while contributing around £6 million of his £391,000-a-week salary. Inter are set to pay £9.46m of the 30-year-old’s wages plus a loan fee to United. The deal does not include an option to buy.

Sanchez will join up with Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku who left United for Inter this month in a deal reported to have cost the Serie A club around €80m ($89.15m).

Sanchez, who previously spent three seasons in Serie A with Udinese before moving to Barcelona, is his country’s all-time leading scorer with 43 goals.

“On behalf of the entire Nerazzurri family, we’d like to wish [Sanchez] a very warm welcome and the best of luck,” Inter said in a statement.

He arrives at San Siro as a replacement for Ivan Perisic, who signed for Bayern Munich.

Lucas Hernandez Signs with Bayern Munich for €80 Million

Lucas Hernandezis breaking out the lederhosen

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of the 23-half-Spanish professional soccer player and Atletico Madrid defender for €80 million.

Lucas Hernandez

The France international will officially join the team on June 30.

A move to the Allianz Arenahad long been mooted for the World Cup-winner, and he will sign a five-year contract, with Atletico Madrid confirming Bayern met Hernandez’s buy-out clause.

“Today is a very important day in my career,” Hernandez said. “Bayern Munich are one of the best clubs in Europe and the world.

“I am proud to be able to fight for every trophy with Bayern in the future. I would like to thank Atletico, the management, the coaches, my teammates and the fans for a wonderful 12 years. Atletico will always be a part of me. Now I’m happy that I’m taking the next step at Bayern. “

Bayern director Hasan Salihamdzicadded: “I am very happy that in Lucas Hernandez we have been able to sign one of the best defensive players in the world and world champions.

“Lucas can be used both in central defense and on the left. In addition, Lucas will continue our tradition of outstanding French players and strengthen our team.”

Hernandez is sidelined with a knee injury picked up during the 3-1 defeat to Real Madridin La Liga, but Bayern are confident he will be fit for the beginning of the next campaign.

Lionel Messi Claims His Fourth European Golden Shoe Award

Lionel Messi is soccer’s Golden boy…

The 30-year-old soccer star received his fourth European Golden Shoe on Friday after netting 37 times in La Liga play during the 2016-17 season.

Lionel Messi

Messi beat out Sporting CP‘s Bas Dost (34 goals in Portugal‘s Primeira Liga) and Borussia Dortmund‘s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (31 in the Bundesliga) in the top three to claim the prize, which is presented to Europe’s top goal scorer.

After also winning the award in 2012-13 (46 league goals), 2011-12 (50) and 2009-10 (34), Messi is tied with Real Madrid‘s Cristiano Ronaldo for most regular winner of the Golden Shoe.

Messi’s 37 goals last season came in 34 Spanish top-flight appearances, but they were delivered as part of losing cause, as Real Madrid beat out Barca to the title.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has netted 12 goals in 12 games in the 2017-18 La Liga campaign.

He’s trailing Lazio‘s Ciro Immobile and Paris Saint-Germain‘s Edinson Cavani, who have netted 15 goals in Serie A and Ligue 1, respectively, in the race for this year’s Golden Shoe. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich‘s Robert Lewandowski, AS Monaco‘s Radamel Falcao and Inter Milan‘s Mauro Icardi have all netted 13 times.

Ronaldo, though, does not look like troubling the upper echelon of the European Golden Shoe rankings anytime soon, as he has netted just once in La Liga this season.

Messi will be looking to add to his tally on Sunday when top-of-the-table Barca travel to face second-place Valencia at the Mestalla.

Neymar Returns to FIFPro World 11 Team

Neymar is officially back on the list…

The 25-year-old Brazilian soccer star, a forward for Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazil national team, joins Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci as the new names in the 2017 FIFPro World 11, joining the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Neymar

Neymar returns to the World 11 after a year’s absence, replacing his former Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez.

Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Buffon was named to the team for the first time since 2007, ending a four-year reign by Bayern Munich‘s Manuel Neuer.

AC Milan’s Bonucci is the only new defender since last year’s awards, receiving the honor for the first time at age 30. He edged out Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, who FIFA said was the closest player left out.

Messi and Ronaldo were both named to the team for the eleventh straight time, sharing the record for the most appearances since the world players union’s award began in 2005.

Barcelona’s Messi received the most votes with 22,229 — only 14 more than Sergio Ramos, who made the team for a sixth straight edition and seventh overall.

Real Madrid had the most players on the list with five as Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Marcelo retained their spots along with Ramos and Ronaldo.

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Brazil, Juventus/Paris Saint-Germain), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy, Juventus/AC Milan), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain)

Suarez Named the World’s Top Goal Scorer in 2016

Luis Suarez is kicking his way into the history books…

The 29-year-old Uruguayan professional footballer, a striker for FC Barcelona and the Uruguay national team, topped all goal scorers worldwide in 2016 with 40 goals, according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).

Luis Suarez

Suarez won the IFFHS award for the world’s best top division goal scorer 2016 for the third time in his career.

Suarez came ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 38 goals, and Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain, who notched 36 goals, according to the IFFHS statement.

Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo was in fourth place with 35 goals, followed by Benfica’s Jonas with 32, while Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi was sixth with 31 goals.

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski came seventh with 30 goals.

Suarez now holds the record for winning the award three times with three different clubs in three different countries, according to the IFFHS.

Suarez won the award for the first time in 2010 with Ajax Amsterdam, and then in 2014 with Liverpool.

Among the players who have won this award twice are Ronaldo in 2014 and 2015 and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in 2012 and 2013, though Messi finished in 10th this year with 26 goals.

Arteta Joins Coaching Staff at Manchester City

Mikel Arteta is headed back to the field in a new role…

The 34-year-old retired Spanish professional footballer, a former captain for the Arsenal Football Club, is joining Pep Guardiola‘s coaching staff at the Manchester City Football Club.

Mikel Arteta

The midfielder’s contract with Arsenal expired on June 30 after a five-year stint at the club, and he had already stated that he expected to take up a coaching role next season.

His move to Manchester City had been widely expected, with Guardiola keen on making him part of the new backroom staff at the Etihad as the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach prepares for his first season in the Premier League.

“The opportunity to join Pep Guardiola and his team was an amazing opportunity for me and I am incredibly excited for the future,” Arteta wrote in a statement he posted on social media.

Arteta captained Arsenal over the last two seasons but struggled with injuries over the last year and was rarely part of Arsene Wenger‘s first-team squad.

He came on as a late substitute for a farewell appearance in the final game of the Premier League season in May and was given a rousing send-off by the Emirates crowd.

He leaves the club having won two Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) titles, and also spent the last couple of years working on his coaching badges at Arsenal as he prepared for life after his playing career.

“Throughout my career I have always been interested in more than just the playing side and have had a passion for helping progress and develop the team outside of just my own role as a player,” Arteta said.

“Coaching has always been something I’ve been keen to go in to and over the past few years I’ve worked hard off the pitch as well as on it to develop my skills in order to put me in a position to be able to pursue a coaching role once I finished playing.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play under some amazing coaches and managers during my playing career and I hope to use elements of everything I’ve learnt from them as well as experience from my own playing career to help City achieve success.”

Messi Breaks Champions League Goal-Scoring Record

Lionel Messi has shattered another record…

The 27-year-old Argentine soccer star broke the Champions League goal-scoring record with the 72nd of his career during Barcelona‘s Group F game against APOEL on Tuesday. He then went on to cap the feat by completing a hat trick.

Lionel Messi

Messi entered Barca‘s game tied with Real Madrid legend Raul with 71, and took the record after diverting Rafinha‘s goal-bound shot into the net in the 38th minute. He then added his 73rd and 74th career competition goals in the second half.

Messi matched the record in just 90 games, while Raul played in 142 Champions League games for Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also in the race for the record, with the Real Madrid star having scored 70 Champions League goals in 106 appearances. The Portuguese forward could well surpass Messi’s total against Basel on Wednesday.

The achievement was the second goal-scoring record Messi has broken in a week. He moved past Telmo Zarra’s La Liga tally of 251 goals with a hat trick against Sevilla on Saturday.

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola said Messi’s Liga record — which currently stands at 253 goals — will not last for 60 years, but 600 years.”

Alonso Agrees to Two-Year Deal with Bayern Munich

Xabi Alonso is leaving his beloved home country and heading to Germany…

The 32-year-old Spanish soccer star has agreed to a two-year contract with Bayern Munich for an undisclosed fee.

Xabi Alonso

Alonso had been a midfielder for Real Madrid for five years following his £30m move from Liverpool in 2009.

Alonso, a Champions League winner in May, had just signed a new two-year deal in January.

Bayern moved for Alonso after Toni Kroos joined Madrid following the World Cup and fellow Spaniard Javi Martinez was ruled out until 2015 with a knee injury.

“He has bags of experience and a big personality,” said Bayern boss Pep Guardiola.

“We need a player with his quality and vision. I know he’s 32 but that doesn’t matter in this position, where you need intelligent players, rather than the legs and stamina for the flanks.”

“I had a great time here, we have won big things and now a new chapter opens for me. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to take,” said Alonso. “The club did not want me to go. It was my decision and I asked them to understand. The club didn’t share my idea but they understood my need to start a new chapter, to start from zero in a new club.”

Alonso, who won two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain, joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004 where he won the Champions League at the end of his first season.

Messi Scores History-Making 86th Goal of 2012…

He’s already considered one of the greatest soccer players of all-time… And Lionel Messi  has just shown the world another reason why…

The 25-year-old Argentine fútbol star broke German great Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record for most goals in a year on Sunday by scoring for the 86th time in 2012.

Lionel Messi

Messi scored twice to lead FC Barcelona to a 2-1 win at Real Betis in the Spanish league match.

His first was an individual effort in the 16th minute to tie Muller’s mark, and he eclipsed the 1972 milestone with a left-footed finish nine minutes later.

“As I have said many times, the record is nice but the important thing is the victory that keeps us on the path we want to continue on,” said Messi. “As I always say, my objectives are on a team level: to win the league, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey again.”

Messi has scored 74 goals for Barcelona and 12 times for Argentina this year, and he still has three games left to add to his tally before the end of the year. Muller scored 85 for Bayern Munich and West Germany.

The 25-year-old Messi passed Brazil great Pele‘s single-season milestone of 75 goals for Brazil and Santos in 1958 with his 75th and 76th goals of the year on November 11 to move into second place behind Muller.

“We won’t see another player like (Messi),” said Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova. “Not just because of his ability to score. But also for his ability to pass, play defense, and his understandings of the game. He is a global star that helps us in so many ways.”

Messi  is one of the three finalists for the FIFA world player of the year award along with teammate Andres Iniesta and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s won the Ballon d’Or for the past three years in helping Barcelona win three Spanish league titles and two Champions League crowns, along with several other competitions. He ‘s seeking to become the only player to win the award for a fourth time when the winner is announced on January 7.

“Leo is supernatural,” said Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. “He doesn’t have limits. We’ll always have to remember everything he gave us. We have to enjoy every minute we have with him.”